Transcribed by Teresa Kesterke from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


William B. Hunt, a farmer and worthy representative of one of the pioneer families of Des Moines county, now living in Burlington, was born in Union township, Oct. 4, 1857. He is a descendant of Simon Hunt, a native of Liverpool, England, who came to America prior to the Revolutionary War, and settled in Maryland, being at that time thirteen years of age. He lived upon a farm, and eventually engaged in farming on his own account. He married and had five sons and two daughters: namely, Samuel, Joshua, John, Wesley, Abraham, Nackie, and Mrs. Sally Roberts. The children were all born in Maryland, but removed to Washington county. Tennessee, and it is probable that the father also went to that State.

John Hunt, son of Simon Hunt, and grandfather of William B. Hunt, was born in Maryland, Feb. 2, 1776, and became a resident of Washington county, Tennessee, where he married Esther Bartlett, a native of that State, born June 27, 1783. They were the parents of eleven children, four of whom were born in Tennessee, while Samuel was born in a blockhouse in Madison county, Illinois, and the younger members of the family were born in Bond county. Many of the Hunts went to Illinois in 1811, and were in Madison county at the time of the War of 1812. Considerable difficulty with the Indians was experienced about that time, and the Hunts, together with their neighbors, built a blockhouse, in which they sought protection against the invasions of the red men. Later John Hunt and his family went to Bond county, Illinois. He had served in the War of 1812 as a teamster, his duty, however, calling him only a short distance from home. He took up considerable land in Bond county, but later removed to McDonough county, Illinois, settling ten miles east of Macomb on the Quincy road. He had between four and five hundred acres of land there, and continued a resident of that county until 1836, living in true pioneer style; for that was then a frontier region, in which few settlements had been made, while the work of cultivating farms and otherwise improving the country had been scarcely begun. About 1836 or 1837 he brought his children, who were not then married, to Des Moines county, Iowa, trading his Illinois land for property here: and again he became a frontier settler, aiding in reclaiming this portion of the State for the uses of the white man. He secured a tract of land and developed a farm, becoming one of the leading agriculturists of his community. He died Feb. 21, 1850, when seventy-four years of age, and his wife died Sept. 10, 1858, when seventy-five years of age. Their children were as follows; Lydia, who was born Aug. 23, 1803, and became the wife of Robert Coles; Charles Wesley, born May 25, 1805, father of our subject; Jesse, born June 20, 1807; Mary, who was born Nov. 22, 1809, and became Mrs. McAdams; Samuel, born March 25, 1813; Nancy, born Aug. 10, 1815; William C., born Jan. 21, 1818; John B., born May 25, 1820; Esther, who was born Feb. 1, 1823, and married Linus Delashmut; Louisa, born July 21, 1825; and Sarah Almira, born April 8, 1832. Of this family Jesse Hunt was the first to come to Des Moines county, arriving in 1834. Samuel arrived about the same time, and they took claims together, after which Samuel returned to Illinois, but a year later again came to Iowa. Charles Wesley also came in 1835. They entered some land from the government, and also bought some: and at his death Jesse Hunt left four hundred acres, and Samuel Hunt between two hundred and fifty and three hundred acres.

C. Wesley Hunt, son of John Hunt, was born in the vicinity of Nashville, in Washington county, Tennessee, Feb. 2, 1776, and when the family removed to Illinois, he made the journey on horseback. He resided successively in Madison, Bond, and McDonough counties, in that State, and in 1835 came to Iowa. He taught school in Des Moines county, being one of the earliest teachers of the State, and in other ways he contributed to the pioneer development of Iowa, aiding in laying the foundation for its present progress. He lived upon a farm about three miles west of Burlington, and prospering in his undertakings he left a farm of three hundred and fifty acres of land, well improved with good buildings, so that its value was greatly enhanced thereby, as well as through the cultivation of the fields. He was married in 1840 to Miss Eliza L. Foster, a daughter of Constantine and Margaret (Sayre) Foster, who came from New Jersey to the West, Mrs. Hunt having been born at Cape May, that State. They traveled in a covered wagon to Ohio, and afterward went to Sangamon county, Illinois, where Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Hunt were married. She was then the widow of a Mr. Berry, and had one daughter, Frances, who afterward married Frank Lodge, and is now living in Bement, Ill. While living in Illinois, C. Wesley Hunt became a soldier, of the Black Hawk war, enlisting from McDonough county, and in later years he received a pension in recognition of his services. He died Nov. 6, 1903, at the age of eighty-eight years, his birth having occurred May 25, 1805, while his wife, who was born May 13, 1820, died Jan. 28, 1895. They were the parents of nine children: Harriet, who married John H. Shepherd, of Fort Madison, Iowa; J. Benton, who is living in Muscatine, Iowa; Catherine, the wife of H. Woods Robinson, of Chicago; Elbridge, who died at the age of twenty-eight years; Charles, a resident of Atlantic, Iowa; Joseph, who died at the age of twenty-three years; Lee, who died at the age of three years; William B.; and Lou E., the wife of Charles E. Peasley, of Stronghurst, Ill.

William B. Hunt obtained his early education in the public schools of Burlington, and afterward attended the old Baptist College, and also the Burlington Business College, being thus well equipped, by thorough mental training, for the practical and responsible duties of life. As soon as old enough to handle the plow he began work in the fields, and he continued to engage in agricultural pursuits. When twenty years of age he assumed the management of the old homestead, where his father had settled in 1835, transforming a wild prairie tract into well-cultivated fields. Mr. Hunt ultimately came into possession of the old homestead, and is now the owner of three hundred and twenty acres of land, on which are substantial buildings and many modern improvements, constituting this a valuable property. He engaged in the raising and feeding of stock, making a specialty of cattle and hogs, and he continued in the active management and operation of his farm until 1891, when he removed to Burlington, where he has since resided, his home being at 317 S. Central Avenue.

Mr. Hunt is not only known as a leading agriculturist, but is also prominent and influential in public affairs, and was called to represent his district in the State Legislature, where he served for four years, attending three sessions. He was elected in 1896 upon the Democratic ticket, and took an active and helpful part in securing the passage of measures which he believed would prove beneficial to his district and the commonwealth. His public record is commendable, for he ever placed the welfare of the State before partisanship or self-aggrandizement. Fraternally, he is connected with Burlington Lodge, No. 84, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

On the 23rd of December, 1885, Mr. Hunt was married to Miss Alice M. Stewart, of Danville, this county, a daughter of W. H. and Sybil (Higley) Stewart. She is a great-great-granddaughter of William Messenger, who was a colonel in the Revolutionary War, enlisting from Massachusetts. Later the Messengers removed to Ohio, and the Higleys lived at Windom, Ohio. The Stewarts were of Scotch descent, and Mrs. Hunt's father was born in Hamilton county, Ohio, and came to Iowa in 1839, with his father, James Stewart. The Messengers came at an earlier day, and both families were pioneer settlers of Des Moines county. Hiram Messenger, grandfather of Mrs. Hunt, owned a tavern at Danville and also a farm in the same locality, and both he and his wife died in Burlington, at an advanced age. W. H. Stewart and his wife settled on a farm in the vicinity of Danville. He died Feb. 9, 1904, but his wife is still living. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Hunt have been born two children, Clara Louise and Helen. The family have many friends in Burlington and throughout the county and Mr. Hunt, as one of its native sons, has made a life record which reflects credit upon the place of his nativity, for he has been found trustworthy in citizenship, faithful in friendship, and reliable in all business transactions.

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